RFP Vendor Response
I need some advice on RFP Vendor Response: just read your "The RFP Template - Writing Proposals That Win Bids" article and I would love your thoughts on two things: What are the "must have sections and subsections" of an RFP vendor response and what would you consider the most logical structure/arrangement and why?
Response from Kris at More-for-Small-Business:
Your question #1: The must-have sections and subsections of the RFP vendor response are all the sections that are in the RFP.
That sounds flippant perhaps but it's not meant to be so.
Typically, each of the RFP sections are graded and weighted – if you leave a section blank you will score 0 on that section or if you refer the reader to another section of your RFP response for the answer (e.g. see section 3.a ) you will likely also score 0 on that section.
Most RFPs are 'scored' by several people and/or a team. So each person gets a section of the response – if they have nothing to read, they score the section as a 0 – even if you've answered elsewhere in the response. If you want to add material that is not requested, put it in an appendix titled Additional Information or Additional Background or Additional Reading.
Your question #2: The most logical structure/arrangement for your RFP response is to follow precisely the order given in the RFP.
Again, RFPs are not usually open to editing or re-ordering/re-sequencing. Even if it does not flow logically to you, follow the structure of the RFP because you will be able to score higher by following the structure (which is typically your desired response - highest score 'wins').
The most important aspect of being successful with RFPs (and RFQs, etc.) is to understand and accept that you need to follow whatever format the RFP is in and that you need to answer all the questions (leave nothing blank).
Then, after the RFP is awarded – and if you didn’t get the award – ask for a debrief or review with the Company or Organization – you need to know why you didn’t get it and try and find out what you scored for each section (and what the marks were for each section – e.g. if you scored 5 for background information was that 5 out of 5 or 5 out of 20?).
Be persistent in getting that debrief or review - it's more work for the Company but it's necessary information for you to become more successful in winning bids.
For more information, you can read these pages on my website which talk about proposal writing and RFQs/RFPs:
Proposal Writing for Sales: An Outline.
Common Elements of a RFQ Template
Writing a Proposal: Consider Outsourcing.
RFP Template (this page is the article you read and referenced)
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